American Accounting Association Names Bentley University Accounting Professor Jean Bedard Outstanding Auditing Educator for 2012
Bentley University accounting professor Jean Bedard was named Outstanding Auditing Educator for 2012 by the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association. She was honored at the organization’s Midyear Conference and Doctoral Consortium in Savannah, GA, in January.
“I was very surprised to get the award, and am highly honored,” says Bedard, Timothy B. Harbert Professor of Accountancy. “During my career, I have worked hard to contribute to academic accounting in terms of teaching, research and service, but so have many others. It is truly gratifying to have those contributions be recognized.”
According to Steve Glover, president of the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association, nominators highlighted Bedard’s international reputation and presence on prestigious conference panels.
“It is not only the quantity and quality of her audit research that makes her an outstanding educator,” Glover says, “it is her pure enthusiasm for research and her mentoring of young scholars.”
Bedard’s research has focused on various aspects of improving audit quality. While her earlier research studied individual auditors’ decisions, her more recent studies examine firm-level quality control practices and regulation. In that scope, Bedard co-wrote a series of papers with Karla Johnstone (University of Wisconsin-Madison) that investigates factors associated with why audit firms either accept or decline certain companies as audit clients.
“This research is very important because audit risk is reduced if the audit firm takes care in its due diligence prior to the engagement,” Bedard notes.
Her recent work on regulation — co-written with Lynford Graham, executive-in-residence at Bentley — studies the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on auditor assessment of the internal controls of large public companies. Findings demonstrate strong benefits of auditor involvement in detecting control flaws, which ultimately leads to improving controls over the quality of financial reporting. This research helps balance studies that focus only on the cost of auditor testing of internal controls.
During the first 25 years of her teaching career, Bedard focused primarily on teaching financial accounting at the intermediate level to undergraduate and MSA students. As students faced increasingly complex accounting standards, Bedard’s goal in the classroom was on understanding versus memorization.
“Accounting standards-setters have choices in determining how companies should portray their results to users of financial reports,” Bedard observes. “To me, the most interesting questions revolve around why they made those choices, and effects those choices have on users’ decisions.”
Since her arrival at Bentley in 2005, her teaching has focused on the doctoral program and the university’s MSA capstone research course. In the PhD program, Bedard teaches a seminar on auditing research. She also serves as a mentor to doctoral candidates who pursue an auditing topic for their dissertation.
Her goal as an educator? “To help students get behind the rules and the numbers, and really understand the why of the process as well as the how. This goal applies to my teaching in financial reporting and auditing, at all levels of education.”
Bedard credits her success to many people, including her family, colleagues, co-authors, mentors and students.
“I also greatly appreciate the support of the Timothy B. Harbert Professorship at Bentley, which has enabled me to undertake further research and service activities that undoubtedly contributed to receipt of this award.”